Maybe you’ve heard the inspirational story about the starfish. It’s often told as a celebration of a young child’s hope triumphing over a curmudgeonly elder’s resignation to the inevitability of encroaching doom. But taking those signifiers out of the story, and it goes something like this:
Person One arrives on the beach one morning to discover that an overnight storm has stranded thousands of starfish all along the beach, all of them helpless to move back to the safety of the sea.
Person One begins picking up starfish and throwing them back into the ocean.
Person Two arrives, inquires, and scoffs. “There are way more starfish here than you can throw. You’re wasting your time. What little you do won’t make a difference in the face of this massive stranding.”
Person One considers, pauses, picks up another starfish and throws it into the sea, saying, “It made a difference to that one.”
Let’s suspend our inner critical voices about systemic responses to climate crises and the unintended consequences when humans interfere with the natural world. The tale’s simple inspirational message is, choose hope. Try. Act anyway. To quote Mahatma Gandhi, “Whatever you do may seem insignificant, but it is most important that you do it.”